POLAND — The kickoff return team showed a lot of gumption, and when Poland scored the first touchdown of the game on the opening set of downs, it appeared the Knights might give Wells a run for its money in a Class C football Friday night.
No such luck.
The Warriors were unfazed by the Knights’ preemptive strike. In fact, Wells had no problem finding its way to the end zone the rest of evening. And the Warriors were not hindered by a handful of penalties, engineering several long drives of their own to march off with a 54-20 victory.
“I don’t know if we played as well as we liked,” Wells coach Tim Roche said. “We won 54-20. I told them they should be feeling pretty good about themselves.
“We did OK. It is not our prettiest game. We need to clean things up.”
The Knights opened some eyes when Nick Cote collected a kickoff around the 25 and ran it back to Wells’ 15-yard line.
Andrew Demers carried the ball to the six on three strong rushes. From there, quarterback Adam Mocciola reeled off a 5-yard pass to Will Bernier for a touchdown. The kick was blocked, but Poland was in command 6-0 in the first quarter — for the moment.
Not to be outdone, Wells scored when senior Chris Carney picked off a Poland pass at the 35-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown. Ryan Marsh booted the extra point and the Warriors set the tempo for the rest of the night.
And Wells’ procession to the end zone was only beginning.
The Warriors scored early in the second quarter, with Carney picking up his second touchdown on a 1-yard rush. Marsh split the uprights again.
Poland didn’t do much on the next set of downs and returned the ball to Wells at the 36. The Warriors connected with a couple of key passes and rushes and found themselves on the 5-yard line where Carney waltzed in from there, giving Wells a 20-6 after its kick was blocked going into the second half.
The third quarter didn’t go well for the Knights, who fumbled on their 4-yard line on the second set of downs in the third quarter. Once again, Wells gave the ball to Carney, who scored on a 2-yard rush and caught the conversion pass.
Carney was back in the end zone four downs later after Poland didn’t get off a strong punt. Carney came across with another TD on a 9-yard run and Marsh’s kick was good, giving Wells a 34-6 lead with 4:48 left in the third quarter.
But Poland didn’t just shrivel up after Carney’s carnage on offense. Will Bernier caught the next kick on the run at the 15 and raced in for an 85-yard touchdown return. Mocciola made good on the extra point.
“They are gutsy kids. They get after it. They play physical,” Roche said. “They do a good job on their kick returns. They have tried to get this program on the right track, and it is on the right track.
“It just takes time and patience, and sometimes people don’t have time and patience.”
The Knights did it again on a kickoff return when Patrick Jacques collected the ball at the 25 and broke free for another TD.
“We certainly had some great speed,” Poland coach Ted Tibbetts said. “The kick return did a great job.
“They (Wells) have some phenomenal athletes. (Our) kids always play gutsy. They are tough kids.”